Before launching an employee advocacy program, it is vital that you ask yourself some key questions – Why? Who? What? Where? When?
Take time to identify desired outcomes of employee advocacy. For example, are you trying to drive more sales? Highlight positive brand perceptions? Increase employee referrals? Increase employer brand exposure? Overcome negative brand perceptions? Or Increase internal engagement? Each preferred outcome will push your program into a different direction, so be sure to understand why you are entering a program in the first place.
Anyone who has run or been involved in marketing campaigns will know the phrase, ‘know thy audience.’ If you haven’t yet done your customer or candidate persona segmentation (for recruitment marketing), then now is the time. This will enable you to create engaging content that really talks to your target audience.
Who do you invite into the program first? Start with the employees who already advocate the brand. Every company has them, they are the people who sing your praises at every opportunity, they love their job, they are true ambassadors of the brand. Once you’ve got a small group of advocates, use them to recruit more advocates internally. Never force people to join and be aware that some individuals simply don’t, and never will like social media. It’s worth noting that mentoring roles are a great way for more social savvy employees to play role reversal with colleagues who are less social savvy.
It is also important at this stage to decide who will take on the role of dedicated program manager. A project like this requires a champion, as well as an organiser, and brand guardian. Part of this role should include employee and senior manager engagement. Securing leadership buy in, and putting in place necessary policies and programs designed to protect the brand and organisation. This could include social media guidelines, crisis management or social media training.
As I mentioned above, you can’t put together a well oiled content creation strategy if you don’t know who your audience is and how they digest content. Once you can answer this, start thinking about what type of content is most likely to drive your desired outcomes. Remember great content touches both our rational and emotional, put yourself in the viewers shoes and try to tell stories that resonate. Think about what types of content individuals like to digest and how that content can push a customer or candidate through the sales or recruitment marketing funnel (Awareness, consideration, Interest, purchase /application). Don’t be scared to let your employees flex their creative muscles. In most organisation there are individuals who can write well, design, take great photos etc the key is to search out these talented individuals and utilise their skills for the good of the company. Furthermore, there are more roles within advocacy campaigns than that of the content creator, consider engaging employees about the following:
The person who creates content, be it video, photo, blogs, infographics, powerpoint slides etc.
The person who shares content on their personal or work social channels
Brand guardian, the person who ensures that the brand is protected, and users are adhering to company social policies
The person who is responsible for responding to comments, likes and shares
The person who is responsible for surveillance of brand mentions, comments, likes and shares, as well as instigating the responder to action their responsibilities
Often someone who is good at debating, or striking up communications with candidates to engage in specific subjects
The person who takes time (often long term) to build relationships with prospective customers or candidates or influencers who could benefit the brand
The person who doesn’t just share, but proactively and consistently advocates the company
Needless to say, we tend to use different social channels for different objectives. An example would be the general divide between using LinkedIn for professional and Facebook for personal (although this is not set in stone). How many of you can safely say that you know which channels your audiences are on and how to get infront of them? Before posting to live channels, it’s worth defining your strategy around each individual, including tone of voice, type of content and which employees could potentially deliver the best ROI on each channel.
One of the key aspects of successful social media management is knowing when to post content. Organisations that get it right tend to be proactive. They work out their social campaigns well in advance and stockpile content for drip feeding throughout a campaign. How do they manage this?
For Customer Acquisition
Speak to marketing and find out dates for key company announcements, these could be product releases or anniversaries. Maximise your company’s social footprint by engaging and educating employees about these important dates, and then provide direction surrounding the content focus. All of this can be curated into a marketing calendar and dispersed amongst colleagues.
For Talent Acquisition
For the majority of talent acquisition departments, social remains a very reactive task. To become more proactive, it starts with your workforce planning, map out known peaks and troughs for recruitment. Ensure that you have the right content per candidate persona and, make sure you understand what type of content resonates with your audience e.g. Sales people tend to have shorter attention spans, so like images and videos.
Every piece of shared content should be tracked. Once the data is collated you’ll be able to determine performance in terms of engagement, reach and impact. It’s not necessarily the most shared articles that generate the most impact. You might have one influential employee who makes more of an impact than all your other employees put together. Bear this in mind for future projects. If appropriate, share results and create a leaderboard to reward employees and drive desired behaviours. Once you have the data to back the program, you can present these to the board and if necessary pitch for more resources.
Needless to say that employee advocacy is not something you can launch without a little preparation. However, there is no denying that employee advocacy, when done right is incredibly powerful. Follow these simple steps above, and you are 99% there. If you don’t feel you have the culture to make advocacy work, then you have a far bigger problem than social media.
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